The Fabulous Bill Barnum- A Retrospective

Bill Barnum
© Chad Parenteau

Bill Barnum is 88 years young. A legendary Poet from the Boston Area, he still attends various open mics to perform his favorite poems from his volumes and volumes of poetry. The video that you are watching is Bill performing his poem from Of Rare Design, the poem is entitled Pierrot, the Wanderer.  I approached Bill after his reading and asked him if I could buy one his books. I bought Of Rare Design, which he still has copies of.  Sometimes Bill’s seems inaudible but his words are fresh. His words are of hope and sing the praises of the human spirit.  I don’t know much about Bill only that he stops into Stone Soup most Monday Nights, and we sit and listen to him at night’s end. A crowded room just for him. Many people filter out, as it is a long open Mic, but I like to stay.  I like to listen to the words of Bill Barnum. Sometimes they are difficult to hear, but in his eyes you can see that he sees something that I don’t see yet. I feel when I hear Bill recite his poems that he is having a conversation with God.  I think Bill is a born entertainer, still entertaining after all these years. Though I feel like he has trouble reciting his words, if you listen, and really listen. Bill speaks of happiness, love and love lost.  He speaks of life going on and how life happens, whether you are sitting in the crowd or standing up in front of one.   Bill is working on new books, and he has plenty of material.   in the streets of Boston, the streets that Bill has walked on almost all his life, his legend will live on. At least in this magazine, and definitely in the hearts of those who know, love and respect Bill and his poetry.  It is an honor to have Bill in the magazine, hear his words and see his words in print. Please enjoy this small but substantial sample of Bill Barnum. Special thanks to Bill’s assistant, Bob Johnson, for the footage.

–Jason Wright

Excerpt from The Poem “Pierrot, The Wanderer”

Necessity
A Weed
that grows new
flowers

not found in
luxury’s gardens
famous
for their wrath!

frivolous blooms turn
angry!
at the last

Misery
harbours tall sails
of our fate

Nothing that moves
can make us
be late
waiting

in Silence
our lives first began

the same as they end
but within a
strange land

Triumphant turtles
slowly claim their
loss
as failing madmen
fiercely

BB in action
© Chad Parenteau

cheer their gain

Nothing
that we spend
is ever
gone
and what we have
we’ll never see again

Questioning
my fear is
buried
into sand reserved
for tunnels
made of stone
I dare not
probe
what here remains
is moving under
sea
to burst with
foam
on shore

Bill Barnum 2013
Photo © Chad Parenteau

of my own

choosing

Reprobate
future
returns on

its past

all that we
are becomes our
breakfast

after night’s
sorrow
burning dreams
that feed fires

we enter our
youth
and from there
we aspire

Bill Barnum, July 2011
Photo © Chad Parenteau

Wings
beating stone
struggle
to ascend
motors
cutting air spin
wheels in
ruts
children
cry
high into sky
breath leaps from
flesh

Premeditated
tears
fall silently
where a garden
shields
its light

No bird flies
Terrors
where a wing

Bill Barnum, 2011
Photo © Chad Parenteau

can hold

free air is hoarded
to become our
gold

lingering
summers
return
beyond number
pull flies into
honey that’s hoarding

our kisses
from rivers of
bliss

through
our lovers run
free
where they cannot

be missed

Trudging mannequins

Bill Barnum, Fists High
Photo © Chad Parenteau

blithely fly

respectable engineers

Buildings
erect themselves

posthumous
to a city’s
demise
a rubble ascends
in a smoke
of melted screams!

Pandering
to broken fuses,
pockmarked
sidewalks
give excuses

for broken barometers
totaled promises

Bicycle minions
frozen
in ice
are statues

from another
life

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